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HudBay reports protests near Guatemala project
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30th September 2009
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TORONTO (miningweekly.com) - Violent protests broke out this weekend over attempts to persuade people living illegally on property belonging to HudBay Minerals' Fenix project, in Guatemala, to relocate.

"A majority of local families have complied with the resettlement agreement but a few continue to illegally occupy CGN property," HudBay said in a statement on Tuesday.

The company said it has not carried out or threatened any evictions, but that, after negotiations on Sunday ended without an agreement, a separate group of organised protesters near the town of El Estor attacked government vehicles and ransacked the local police station.

A hospital sponsored by the HudBay's local subsidiary was also attacked, and several employees were injured. One person was killed as a result of gunshot wounds.

However, there has been no damage reported at the mine site or plant facilities. The Fenix mine produced nickel between 1977 and 1980, until being mothballed because of a combination of high oil costs and weak nickel prices.

HudBay bought the asset last year, but put the project on hold just months later, after nickel prices fell.

CEO Peter Jones said in a statement on Tuesday that the company remains committed reaching a "fair and equitable" solution to land claims and resettlement.

"The majority of residents in the area support our outreach efforts, investments in the local community and development of the Fenix project," he said.

HudBay is also still committed to developing the Fenix project "to reach full production when it is economically viable", the company said.

It will "cooperate fully" with any investigation into the violent incidents.

Edited by: Liezel Hill

 

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